May 142011

The day has arrived. In a few hours, the outcome of the 130th FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Stoke City at Wembley will be known.

One of the teams will go down in the history books as the winner; the losing side will fade into obscurity.

As a Stoke City supporter for 51 years, you don’t need me to tell you who I want to win.

Stoke City 1972 League Cup Final shirt. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Manchester City are the obvious favourites with a team that cost in excess of £200 million, while Stoke’s was assembled for £26 million in transfer fees.

In their last Premier League games both teams faced north London opposition. Stoke City convincingly beat Arsenal 3-1 at the Britannia Stadium; Manchester City beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at Eastlands to clinch a place in next season’s Champions League.

But the saying in football goes – you are only as good as your next game. And that game is the FA Cup Final.

The last time Manchester City won the cup was in 1969 thanks to a Neil Young goal. Sadly, Young died earlier this year and City fans believe the FA Cup will be one by them in memory of Young.

Bolton Wanderers fans believed they were destined to win the FA Cup in memory of Nat Lofthouse who died this year. But when Bolton met Stoke City in the FA Cup semi-final, they were thrashed 5-0 by the Potters.

Dead men do not win football matches.

In this David versus Goliath clash this afternoon, the TV pundits are going with Goliath. On paper that seems a sound assessment but football matches are not played on paper.

It is what happens on the Wembley turf this afternoon that counts, where 11 men wearing the sky blue shirts of Manchester City take on 11 others wearing the red and white stripes of Stoke City.

May the best team win. I just hope it is Stoke.

In the League Cup Final of 1972, Stoke City were the underdogs against Chelsea but won the game 2-1. A similar scoreline in Stoke’s favour this afternoon would suit me fine.

Feb 142011

Signing on to AOL this morning I was greeted by the news of the winners at the Grammys award ceremony.

Looking down the list of winners and nominations, I have to confess that 98 per cent of the names are a mystery to me. Lady Gaga? Who?

Moving to the Rock category, a few familiar names did appear – Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Robert Plant and Neil Young. I noticed Jeff Beck’s album Emotion & Commotion was shortlisted for Best Rock Album but it didn’t win.

Jeff did pick up the Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for Hammerhead off the above mentioned album.

I first saw Jeff Beck in 1972 at Manchester University Students’ Union when he delivered a blistering set featuring the Rough And Ready album, still one of my favourites 40 years on.

It was nearly 20 years later that I saw him for a second time. I reviewed his 1990 show at the Apollo Theatre in Manchester. The set featured Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop, which is my favourite of all his albums.

This 20-year cycle looks to continue. I have tickets for Jeff’s Show at The Florida Theatre in May.

Other than those in the rock categories, I did recognize Goldfrapp, Larry Carlton, Charlie Musselwhite, Jimmie Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Dr John and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

I think that gives a good indication of where my musical taste lies when it comes to popular music.